The Devil is in the Intangibles
There is a larger issue artists of all stripes should spend more time contemplating. Loose and impressionistic, like tight and controlled handling of any art subject, involves numerous choices in the process, at the beginning and all along the way. In and of themselves, loose painting or tightly rendered detail are not artistic, regardless of what art snobs might say. Its how deftly you wield those styles that matter, right? Right! Sound a little obvious to you? Well it should, but its odd how little I see that aspect discussed. Loose painting is not more artistic simply because its loose. Read More »
If you follow my YouTube channel, you may have noticed that I’ve been uploading Strathmore Workshop videos over the last couple weeks. These were 4 videos done for their web site last spring (2016) and aired during each week of May. This year, as per agreement with Strathmore, the video rights revert back to me. Read More »
We all want to improve as artists don’t we? Growing as an artist is the key to more enjoyment and satisfaction as we tread this adventurous but sometimes frustrating path. Practice is a given, but what happens when we get stuck and don’t know how to improve. The brave artist seeks appropriate, constructive input and critique. Its a tougher challenge, though, than we sometimes realize. Read More »
Veterans have served for a variety of reasons. For Americans, the reasons usually include the protection or our great nation, propagation of freedom and the dismantling of tyranny. While not all wars have been popular, the men and women who have served should all be revered for one simple reason – the decision to lay down their life, should they be called upon, for something greater than themselves. They did not serve a politician or a government but We the People, and an idea that this great Republic and what it stands for should continue for the good of all peoples.Read More »
Stop it alright! Just stop. The madness and the addiction has to end. Ok, no it doesn’t actually. Not completely anyway. I’m addicted too and as addictions go I could do a lot worse, but I wanted to sound semi serious for a split second.
What in the Sam Hill am I talking about?! Our beloved art supplies! We’re all obsessed aren’t we? Yeeesss, don’t deny it. I can see the 500 questions on the tip of your tongue right now. What brush is that? What brand? What size? What paint is that? What paper is that? Where can I buy it? What hand soap did you use before you started?
No Mo FOMO
I get it. Especially you beginners new to watercolor (or painting in general). You need info, not platitudes and fortune cooking sayings. BUT! in your journey to discover more about watercolor, or any medium, don’t let gear obsession take over your developmental fears. There’s actually a clinical term for this you know, its called FOMO (fear of missing out) and it takes many forms. If that fear takes over, you start missing out on the real skill development fun. I am the first to admit, I love to obsess over gear and art supplies sometimes, but more because I love to get new stuff and try it out. However, if you let gear obsession feed the lie that you can’t paint really well until you have the exact, right stuff you’re missing out already. Thats right, you’re already at the point you feared. Moving forward in your artistic development is NOT gear related as sure as I’m sitting here on my plump little behind.
Obsess Over This!
Find out just enough about the materials you need to get “decent” brushes, paper and paint and then get to painting. Go ahead and obsess over art gear if its for curiosity and experimentation’s sake and you have the money to do so, but not because of FOMO. Far better to obsess over mastering that next cool technique or skill. Master painters can take the materials you have and think are crap and paint you an unbelievable painting, and if they used their preferred gear for the same painting, I doubt you could tell the difference. They can tell because they have the experience to notice subtle differences, most of which play to their preferences and not the results.
Understand me well. I’m not saying gear makes no difference at all, but it makes far less difference than you think. The question I should get but rarely do is, “why are you using that brush, paint or paper.” A far more instructive question than, “what is that?”
If you’ve frequented the fine art or painting section of your local book store, you’ve likely seen one of Mary Whyte’s Books. At least here in the Southern United States her books are a common sight. Watercolor Artist Mary Whyte may not be on the lips of every professional art connoisseur drawing breath, but something tells me that she will be spoken of more and more in years to come (If only by us “real folk.” Sorry art snobs. That probably doesn’t refer to you.) And in those years to come I wonder if we may one day speak of Mary as we now do wildly popular American artists like Andrew Wyeth. You know with that same reverential, wide eyed, understanding nod that makes us feel like we know at least a little something about art. “Oh yeah. that Andrew Wyeth, he’s the best.” But lets not trivialize her work. I have my reasons why I think the air around Mary’s work is rare. I may not be an expert on what makes notable artists notable in the years to come, but it won’t surprise me if Mary ends up as one of them. Who am I kidding, she’s probably half way there already.
Mary Whyte began her artistic life as many of us aspiring artists do, displaying evident talent early on, accompanied by an idealistic passion to pursue it, but thats where the similarities end for most of us. While real life and distraction often brush our grand art dreams aside, Mary persisted, was prolific and sought to infuse her work with key ingredients, namely story and meaning. Her art journey has been almost relentless in that pursuit. Ironically, she found some of those stories strewn right across her path, not because they were obvious, but because she was looking intently for them. Does art like this ring a bell? Oh yeah, thats right, Andrew Wyeth. Ok, so the styles are completely different and perhaps there are many other artists I could more closely compare her to, but both Mary’s and Andrew’s work present visual narratives that vibrate with intimacy and authenticity. Iconic artists that elevate past obscurity, past snobbish pretense and stroll unapologetically across the popular art stage, have discovered that telling meaningful stories with art, about places and lives we never knew existed, embeds those images into our souls. And when its done as prolifically and masterfully as Mary does it, a pedestal rises up to meet that body of work.
More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte is the latest of books about her work. While the other 6 books either present artistic process, instruction, or focus on a specific collection of works, this book is a larger overview of her life, her artistic journey and a good cross section of her artistic projects through the years, not to mention deftly voiced descriptions of the images, compositions and sources for her inspiration thanks to art historian Martha R. Severens. In short, its a good art read, especially for anyone ever wondering what sets apart merely good artists from really important ones.
Mary Whyte’s Website
Artist Mary Whyte’s Labor of Love – CBS Sunday Morning Video
Well, I’ve gone and made myself a workshop. Aside from the Strathmore workshops I did earlier in the spring this is my first, and my first paid workshop. Its not long, about 53 minutes total running time for all segments combined. I hope you’ll go and check it out. (For Patreon supporters, this content has also been shared there for everyone at the $5 level or above.)
Here is my Skillshare workshop link and first time subscribers using this link to join will get their first 3 months for only .99 cents.
In short, its reasonably priced and easily accessible for the participant plus user friendly for me, the teacher, making it a good workshop starting point. It doesn’t require that I design lengthy, involved classes, and likewise does not present you with a major time commitment for learning. Its right for where I currently am in this process of sharing my watercolor passion in extended format. This platform was recommended to me by several people and it also seemed a good fit for my YouTube audience who’ve been asking for paid extended content but don’t want to shell out a ton in expensive workshop fees. It also provides me the added benefit of being able to add class projects and allows students to share their projects and start up class discussions. The value is definitely there for my followers since you can also access tons of other instructional content, possibly not even related to art. Simply specify your instructional preferences and you’re presented with tons of learning options, all included for the same monthly price.
Patreon Supporters Please Note
For the foreseeable future this content will usually be duplicated on Patreon. Or I’ll provide free access to the Skillshare workshop. This access may vary depending on support level, so I’m not sure how that will play out exactly yet, but if you are a Patreon supporter and not interested in joining Skillshare for other content, wait a bit to see what I post as part of your rewards before also signing on to Skillshare.
Thanks for your support everyone and Happy Painting!